After their tortured history, Manchester City are in no mood to take their foot off Man United… Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the Red Devils would always reign supreme, but Pep and Co are now in control.

Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t lose often to Manchester City, but on the occasion of his most famous defeat to the city club, he found the perfect way to sum it all up.

Standing in the narrow Maine Road press room after a 5-1 rout on September 23, 1989, Ferguson said: “Trying to control that game was like trying to climb a glass mountain.”

All these years later, as the two Manchester clubs prepare to meet in a second successive FA Cup final, the fifth full-time manager since Ferguson walked away from the oven 11 years ago knows the feeling well.

Erik ten Hag is preparing for what could be his last game in charge of United after facing City in five games in his two years and losing four of them, conceding 15 goals. His team is surprisingly 7-1 to win in 90 minutes. It is necessary to remember here that there are only two horses in this race.

This is now the situation in Manchester football. It is not new. The accumulated Premier League points difference since Ferguson lifted his last farewell title in 2013 is 198 and needless to say, it is in City’s favor. United have never beaten City in that time. This season the difference was 31 points, the third time it has exceeded the 30-point barrier.

Man City will look to inflict more misery on rivals Man United in Saturday's FA Cup final

Man City will look to inflict more misery on rivals Man United in Saturday’s FA Cup final

Pep Guardiola and his team won their fourth consecutive Premier League title this season

Pep Guardiola and his team won their fourth consecutive Premier League title this season

Sir Alex Ferguson once claimed that United would never be less favored than rivals City.

Sir Alex Ferguson once claimed that United would never be less favored than rivals City.

For United, the depth of shame is immeasurable and the length of the road back almost incalculable. Ferguson once said that United would never be City’s favorites in his lifetime. The truth is that, from a football point of view, their neighbors have erased them from the map.

And for those who feel that City and their supporters may be becoming increasingly bored or complacent with their dominance of Manchester and, indeed, English football, some historical context is needed.

For so many long, humble years, it was the other way around and if the younger City fans who have only known success in their lives don’t remember it, then you can bet they live in homes with parents and older siblings who do. .

That day in 1989 remains instructive in its own way. Paul Lake, the young City midfielder whose career was so terribly cut short by a knee injury, tells the story of how he was sitting in his car at the traffic lights on the way to the game and looking at a father and son, both dressed in City colors.

“This guy nudges his son and does something I’ll remember forever,” Lake recalls. Pressing his palms together as if he were praying, he looks at me pleadingly and simply says, “Please, please.”

City’s big win remains a standout memory for many of that age. However, the truth is that nothing changed.

City, lacking money, real quality and any kind of direction, continued to stumble through the middle regions of the top flight and indeed the bottom, while Ferguson built a United team so successful that his club’s supporters installed a banner in the first division. of the Stretford End pointing out how many years it had been since their local rivals last won a title. Every year it went up one more level.

“I feel a little embarrassed by the fuss and frenzy surrounding that 5-1 scoreline,” writes former City winger David White in his book Shades of Blue.

United enjoyed a lot of success under Ferguson, but now it is City who dominate

United enjoyed a lot of success under Ferguson, but now it is City who dominate

Sir Jim Ratcliffe's investment suggests things could improve for United

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment suggests things could improve for United

‘It was a victory at a time when they were far superior. I never went to Old Trafford thinking we would compete at their level.

“That victory was a false dawn. There was no golden age or dramatic renaissance. Ferguson’s superstars dominated English football and our trophy cabinet was gathering dust.

While United went toe-to-toe with Liverpool and then Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League era, City felt condescending and Ferguson was rarely shy. When they moved from Maine Road to Manchester City Stadium in 2003 (now the Etihad Stadium), Ferguson was confident enough to publicly call it the “Temple of Doom”. When his team suffered a defeat there in March 2004, he became so angry that he tore off a piece of the wall in the visiting locker room.

At City the feeling of inferiority was palpable and deeply rooted. Their infamous former chairman, Peter Swales, who ran the club for two decades from 1973 onwards, loved City so much that he painted their walls sky blue. But he hated United just as deeply.

“I dedicated my life to making them,” Swales told city historian Gary James shortly before his death in 1996.

‘I wanted to see City’s name everywhere, in all the newspapers. No one will be able to catch them now and that was all I tried to do. We were closer than anyone in the 1970s and we were in the same damn town.

As detailed in Tim Rich’s delightful book Caught Beneath the Landslide, there were other City board members equally obsessed with everything United was and their own club was not. One director, the late Ian Niven, did not even refer to United by his name. He always called them Stretford Rangers.

And if this all seems a bit historical and ‘so what’ at the moment, then it isn’t, simply because City and much of their fan base carried with them that feeling of being Manchester’s second club for so long.

United may have looked west to Liverpool, and even east to Leeds, for their true rivalries, but City never did. The only one they ever cared about was sitting there on all that land near White City and annually displaying their latest trophy from a bus down Deansgate.

Today, United wear their 20 league titles and three European Cups with more pride than ever. Their heritage remains of fundamental importance to them and, truth be told, the weight it continues to carry in the media and beyond slightly irritates some people within the city’s bright blue walls. When it comes to disputes between neighbors, they eventually dwell on small grievances.

With the influence of minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his Ineos group beginning to be felt at Old Trafford, there is flickering hope that United’s shaky ship will soon begin to turn around. On Saturday at Wembley they will not fail to have a chance. City worked against them a bit to win this game 2-1 last season, while Ten Hag have a few players back, most notably the much-missed Argentine central defender Lisandro Martínez.

The recent return of Lisandro Martínez (left) to action could prove to be of great benefit to United

The recent return of Lisandro Martínez (left) to action could prove to be of great benefit to United

However, United’s history in the Cup has been eventful. Their victories in the quarter-finals and semi-finals over Liverpool and Coventry in the Championship came out of the box called ‘kamikaze’.

That’s how City used to do it, of course. For years it was difficult to take your eyes off them, although often for the wrong reasons. Now it is the Abu Dhabi-powered superclub that pushes forward with all the predictably drab menace that was once the calling card of Ferguson and his great United teams.

The great Laird of Old Trafford will be in his seat at Wembley on Saturday watching Ten Hag and his players attempt to scale that glass mountain. If City works, they win. That’s how unbalanced this great Northern discussion has become.

Bored of that? Come now. When it comes to City’s foot being pressed hard down United’s throat, it’s not even a fact that the novelty has worn off.